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Publisher's Summary

"A liberal society stands on the proposition that we should all take seriously the idea that we might be wrong. This means we must place no one, including ourselves, beyond the reach of criticism; it means that we must allow people to err, even where the error offends and upsets, as it often will." So writes Jonathan Rauch in Kindly Inquisitors, which has challenged listeners for more than 20 years with its bracing and provocative exploration of the issues surrounding attempts to limit free speech. In it, Rauch makes a persuasive argument for the value of "liberal science" and the idea that conflicting views produce knowledge within society.

In this expanded edition of Kindly Inquisitors, a new foreword by George F. Will strikingly shows the book's continued relevance, while a substantial new afterword by Rauch elaborates upon his original argument and brings it fully up to date. Two decades after the book's initial publication, while some progress has been made, the regulation of hate speech has grown domestically - especially in American universities - and has spread even more internationally, where there is no First Amendment to serve as a meaningful check. But the answer to bias and prejudice, Rauch argues, is pluralism - not purism. Rather than attempting to legislate bias and prejudice out of existence or to drive them underground, we must pit them against one another to foster a more vigorous and fruitful discussion. It is this process that has been responsible for the growing acceptance of the moral acceptability of homosexuality over the last 20 years. And it is this process, Rauch argues, that will enable us as a society to replace hate with knowledge, both ethical and empirical.

©2013 Jonathan Rauch (P)2013 Cato Institute

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  • 07-13-16

One of My Top 3 Books - Ever

A must read for everyone who thinks maybe 'free speech' is a buzzword and limits are needed, or even for people that appreciate the principle of it but don't have it in the forefront of their minds when reading the news lately.

I love Penn Jillette and his voice is great. The producer deserves a kick for not noticing the changes in his voice where they obviously did re-recordings. However, this is a great book to take advantage of Audible's cross-purchase discount with Kindle if available. You'll find dozens of passages worth highlighting.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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More important now than ever

If you could sum up Kindly Inquisitors in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, clear and powerful argument for free speech and open society. When it comes to knowledge and 'being right' no-one has the final say and it belongs to no-one in particular. If, like me, you think Free Speech is important but don't like people being mean or abusive, this is the book to cure you of your (and my) misplaced empathy. A) Free Speech matters more, and B) it is in the interests of the oppressed more than the oppressors.

What did you like best about this story?

The clarity of the case being made.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

I love Penn Jillette, but initially it felt a little rushed and bombastic (a feature we love about him on stage) so took a little time for me to get used to it and for him to settle into the job. Volunteered his time though, so big raps for that.

Any additional comments?

In a world where the Thought Police are invading all aspects of our lives, and discussion so quickly descends into the ad hominem or ad Hitlerim, this book matters.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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stupid arguments. thouroughly disappointing​

this is an AUTHOR trying to argue that words don't matter.

free and open inquiry is imperative to the American way of life. the honest exchange of ideas should and must be protected and encouraged.

but those things are vastly different from the use of speech to belittle and intimidate a specific person or group of people.

should you be allowed to be a racist? unfortunately, yes, but you should not be able to intimidate, threaten or accost a person based upon their ancestry.


should you be allowed to womanize? as long as acts stay between consenting adults and the line is not crossed into sexual harassment or assault.

the argument of this book is very simple. people are becoming too sensitive and thin-skinned. I would not disagree, but it's attempt is over-reaching and obviously aimed at people who think that God controls their life and hates black people....

0 of 1 people found this review helpful